2019 Meal Plan: Week 4

Last week I was early, and this week I’m late. Oh well, I can’t always be perfect!

I don’t have fun pictures this week. It has been stupidly cold and icy and snowy. I’ve been stupidly run-down and exhausted and under the weather.

So this week’s post is about keeping it simple and to the point.

Jan. 21: buffalo chicken jalapeño popper casserole (we’ve made this before), zucchini (cooked in a little olive oil, seasoned with pepper and some lemon thyme salt, and tossed with cream cheese), and a salad.
Jan. 22: Cajun chicken pasta made in the Crockpot (from the freezer – this was a freezer meal night), and a salad for the husband and broccoli for me.
Jan. 23: chicken skewers with a peanut dipping sauce (from the 5 Ingredient keto book in last week’s post), blistered green beans, and a cauliflower rice I’ll be making with seasonings, cream cheese, cream, and shredded cheese.
Jan. 24: crack chicken in the pressure cooker, salad, and pasta for the husband (if he wants it).
Jan. 25: another freezer meal (not sure what), and a salad.
Jan. 26: salsa chicken made in the Crockpot (no recipe, just dumping and setting and forgetting), and we’ll turn those into tacos (I likely won’t be using a shell), black beans, and cauliflower rice I’ll season up and add to. The cats have a vet appointment so we’re aiming for easy.
Jan. 27: pulled pork with barbecue sauce in the Crockpot, salad for Kalen and broccoli for me, and some homemade cornbread (I’ll have a sliver, and we can freeze the rest). This would be my Dad’s 61st birthday. The last one I had with him was in 1999. So, I’ll be taking it easy.

What are your meal plans for this week? Share in the comments!

xoxo, Amber


2019 Meal Plan: Week 3

I am so proud of myself! Granted, we still have tomorrow, but we stuck to the meal plan with the exception of ONE NIGHT ONLY! On Thursday, I’d had a pretty bad/stressful day and I asked Kalen if we could run to Michael’s so I could get some spring greenery. He hates to shop, but even so he said he’d go with me (I hate to shop alone), and then he suggested that we get wings for dinner (dude knows the way to my heart 10 years later). So, we picked up some wings (they were on special that night), and some green bean fries, and ate at home. We have tried to make it a “rule” that we don’t eat out more than once a week, so I think we are doing well.

I’m early this week, I know, but there’s just so much stuff to get done that I figured I’d go ahead and post now while I have a spare moment. Once this is done, it’s onto finishing up task two for my Business Communication course (task one was already submitted and accepted), reading (remember, balance), and writing. I also need to plan tomorrow, and one of my goals for 2019 (post coming soon-ish) is to find a Bible reading plan, and I think I’ve found one! I will need to catch up, but I discovered this through a friend of mine and it’s intriguing. I’ll post more on it later, too.

Onto the food for next week!I’m using two different keto cookbooks for these recipes. We have The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet and 30 Minute Ketogenic Cooking: 50+ Mouthwatering Low-Carb Recipes to Save You Time and Money. Those are both affiliate links, fyi. It costs you nothing to use the link, but I get a little kickback if you do.
Jan. 14: Zucchini noodles with hamburger gravy (30 Minute….) and a salad.
Jan. 15: Herbed chicken with mushrooms (30 Minute….), salad, and green beans.
Jan. 16: Cream cheese & jalapeño stuffed burgers with fried potatoes, and salad.
Jan. 17: Skillet chicken Parmesan (30 Minute….), cheesy zucchini gratin (30 Minute….), and salad for Kalen and frozen creamed spinach for me.
Jan. 18: Parmesan garlic chicken with asparagus (originally salmon from Five Ingredients….), salad for Kalen and leftover spinach for me.
Jan. 19: Going out for Mexican food for a friend’s birthday. Hopefully Kalen will be joining me.
Jan. 20: Steak (probably sous vide then seared), carrots, and salad.

We only had to buy produce for these dinners as we have the meat and other ingredients already. I’m so thankful for Aldi’s produce – their so much cheaper than other stores, and if they weren’t or we didn’t have one nearby, we’d be eating a lot of canned/frozen stuff. I don’t mind either option, but I prefer fresh over them. I can’t wait until it’s summer and can grow some of our own again.

Do you garden? Let me know what you grow!

2019 Meal Plan: Week 2

This week, and weekend, flew by way too fast for me! Our meal plan last week was semi-followed. Tuesday we ended up having Buffalo Wild Wings because was A. had a $40 gift card and B. my friend came by with her computer so my husband could fix it. Wednesday we had the baked ziti (so good, and we froze the leftovers), Thursday we had the chicken Milanese, and Friday we had dinner at my sister’s. Saturday, I spent the day inside cleaning up. Christmas was already packed away, but we lugged the tree out, and I vacuumed, dusted, and just cleaned. Kalen took down the decorations out in the yard and off the house, and there were a lot of walks with Molly. When we finally went grocery shopping, after a trip to Dollar Tree and Home Depot, we hit up Aldi first, which was always do.
We got two packs of romaine, pizza bagels (don’t ask), two packs of frozen strawberries, a half gallon of milk, canola oil, two packs of the Asian chopped salad, two bags of grapes (only one is pictures), 6 cans of their Ro*Tel, two containers of blueberries, a package of their peanut butter cups (SO GOOD!), and four dozen eggs, already in the other fridge so they’re not pictured. I don’t have an accurate total, but it was around $37.

We followed up Aldi with a local grocery store of ours. There were a few things that Aldi didn’t have and that we needed.
We bought some frozen pizzas (one was our dinner that night haha), two Kickstarts (Kalen’s drink of choice), some frozen breadsticks (dinner Saturday too), some corn meal (Aldi didn’t have it), bananas, and ground beef was on sale so he snagged six pounds of it. The total here was $34.25.

We TECHNICALLY went over our “budget” but that meat will give us six meals, and the canned goods and frozen stuff will last too.

So now, onto our meal plan!!!
Jan. 7: Simple creamy chicken soup with homemade bread, and salad. I made the dough for the bread yesterday and baked it today. We enjoyed a slice with our dinner, and it is GOOD.
Jan. 8: Gonna try the chicken thighs in mustard cream sauce, and roasted carrots with vinaigrette again. And of course, salad.
Jan. 9: Shake ‘n Bake (don’t judge – I love that garbage haha), salad for Kalen and broccoli for me, and rice.
Jan. 10: freezer meal and a salad.
Jan. 11: freezer meal and a salad.
Jan. 12: Gonna try the browned butter and lemon thighs again, with the stuffles, again. And a salad.
Jan. 13: Making some chili in the pressure cooker and homemade cornbread.

That’s all for this post! Are you meal planning in 2019? Let me know in the comments below!

2019 Meal Plan: Week 1

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

One of my goals for 2019 (we’ll talk more about this in a later post) is to post more consistently here! I know that, for me personally, seeing meal plans of other bloggers is inspiring. It helps to give me ideas of what I might want to serve that week.

And I like to think that I’m pretty inspiring, haha.

So, ANYWAY, I’m a bit early (for me), but I wanted to post the first meal plan of 2019, so that you might all be inspired. Also, tomorrow I have to figure out just what planners I’ll be using for the new year, do my weekly planning, prepare our food for New Year’s Eve, and have my mother-in-law over for dinner.

On to the food!
This week, almost all of our recipes are in these two beauties. The waffle one is from Christmas this year, from my Mom, to go with the waffle maker she bought for me too. I’m excited to try it out for more than waffles (we had those this morning – delish!).

12/31: New Year’s Eve party with family – we’re taking a sausage queso dip and some meatballs made in the Crockpot (made with chili sauce and grape jelly).
1/1: Baked ziti from the Pioneer Woman book, and a salad.
1/2: Chicken Milanese, buttery pasta noodles, and lemony green beans, all recipes from P.W.
1/3: Baked lemon & browned butter chicken thighs, stuffles (from Will It Waffle), and a salad.
1/4: Chicken with a mustard cream sauce (P.W.), roasted carrots with vinaigrette (P.W.), and a salad. We’ll be using chicken thighs for this, and removing the skin and bone.
1/5: Waffled chicken fingers (W.I.W.), thin fries (P.W.), and a salad.
1/6: Chicken enchiladas (P.W.), and Mexican rice made in the pressure cooker. We’ll be using leg quarters for the filling in this one.

This is the insert that I use in my main planner for our weekly meal plans. I did screw up and mixed up Tuesday and Wednesday while I was filling it out, but I just crossed it out on my sheet so I know. I love these inserts because they have a grocery list on the back, and I’m able to jot down something we need as it pops up (we have a more organized list for when we go shopping). If you use a Happy Planner, grab a pack of these – they are AMAZING!

So, are you meal planning in 2019? Let me know and share your plans if you want!

xoxo, Amber

Baby Steps, Kinda

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Months ago, I made this post and this post in relation to money and budgeting and our debt.

Since those posts, we’ve gotten waaaaaay off track with our resolve to save and not spend, and it’s worse than before. Meal planning is still going strong, but so is our spending.

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I’ve been listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast, and while I don’t 100% agree with everything he says, like having no credit cards or credit at all really, but I think he has excellent ideas. Kalen has just started to track our spending (I am a paper and pen gal, and he set up an app…haha), and we’re going to sit down and once again budget. We make more than enough to pay down our debt but we’re not spending wisely, or paying things down wisely.

We haven’t actually sat down yet to do the actual budget/plan, but today, for example, we used cash for groceries. We more or less stuck to it but I grabbed a few Aldi finds (addicted!) and that definitely put us over.

I’ll make an updated and detailed post when we’ve finalized it all, but I’m excited, believe it or not, to do this for real this time.

My Weekly Cleaning Routine


I wish I had some interesting pictures to go with this post, but alas, I only have a picture of the cleaning supply cabinet in our pantry/laundry room and the products I most use.

First up, we have some Awesome Cleaner courtesy of Dollar Tree. I use this when things are really hard to clean, like a cooked on mess on the stove, or when the cats puke in the basement. This isn’t used that often, but it is indeed awesome! I also use Endust a lot – we have real wood furniture, and we have non-wood, and that’s where the Endust comes in. I have some Pledge Multi-Surface, but I find that leaves a film on my stuff. The rest of my most used cleaning products are all by Method. I have the Wood for Good Daily Clean for our dining room table and chairs, and the Wood for Good Polish that I use once a week on the table and on the other wood items in the house. I LOVE how this stuff smells!!! I love the Bathroom Cleaner (and I have the Shower Spray tucked away in my shower)and it cleans the sink/tub/toilet so well. I have two different All-Purpose cleaners, one in pink grapefruit and one in French lavender, and I love both. They are used for the counter tops, the windows, the mirrors, and any other thing my heart desires to clean. I also have baskets of microfiber rags and regular rags that I use for various tasks. And, not pictured, are the vacuum, fan duster, and Swiffer (we have a washable pad for it).

So, Saturdays are my typical cleaning day. Throughout the week, of course, I do clean – vacuum (hello two cats and one dog), clean the counters, and clean the table), but on Saturday, I go nuts. First, I eat though. Gotta have strength and all that.

I tend to start my cleaning days in the living room/dining room/kitchen (open concept) by clearing surfaces. With Molly though, I have to do that in batches haha. I’ll take items back to their proper place (bedroom, office, bathroom, etc.). Then I start to dust. I do it this way because I start from the highest part, and move down. So, as I’m cleaning off the mantle, I will set those items down on the table/counter (and out of Molly’s watch), wiping them down with a microfiber rag, and then I use a regular rag to polish the mantle. After that, I play the fun game of How the heck was this up here before!?. I keep doing this, going around the living room/dining room, dusting with either the polish or the Endust where it is necessary. The table is done after all of that is done, and I use the daily cleaner, followed by the polish. When I do this, I remove EVERYTHING from the table. I pull out the chair and wipe them down with the cleaner (I don’t polish them), and I clean the center shelves. My last stop is the kitchen. I will clean off the counters in batches, moving everything again, and cleaning it with the all-purpose cleaner. The last step out here is to vacuum everything. Then, Kalen will mop the kitchen floor.

After this, I go through each room, making the bed, dusting the furniture, and picking up odds and ends. The guest room is typically a vacuum/dust only room, while the office can be in any given state. I’ll dust and vacuum, but sometimes I have to straighten up, or rearrange items. It varies week to week on that end. In our bedroom, I dust, I change the sheets, make the bed, clean off my vanity (I use the all-purpose for this one), and make sure everything is put away. Kalen’s dresser top is a catch-all in the room so I make it a point to go through that when I have a chance. I move onto the master bathroom, aka my bathroom, and clean the sink and tub. I dust my shelves off in there (Kalen does not). He will clean his bathroom, and then he’ll clean the toilet in mine before he mops both of them. While the floors are drying, I’ll go through the room and vacuum them all, grossing myself out at the amount of stuff picked up (I vacuum the living room/dining room more than once per week, but not the rest of the house).

When I’m cleaning, I like to turn on my wax warmers. We prefer scents like pine, or leaves, or lavender, or outdoorsy scents, so right now we’re in pine mode, and I love it! In the spring/early fall, I love to open the doors and windows and let the fresh air in. Sometimes in the winter, I’ll crack a window or two just to get some fresh air in the house. Nothing makes me feel like my house is clean than some fresh air. Anyone else?

Once I’m done, I like to just sit down and relax! Growing up, we always cleaned on Saturdays, and we’d split it up between the four of us. Did anyone else grow up with a cleaning day? Do you have a cleaning day now? Let me know! And if you have any cleaning tips/tricks/suggestions, let me know that too!

Weekly Meal Plan and Some Highlights

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving from Kalen and I!

Last week was crazy hectic between the two Thanksgiving celebrations (one Thursday and one Friday), getting our tree Saturday, grocery shopping Saturday, and decorating for Christmas on Sunday. Plus, Sunday included a lot of cleaning, and it’s my weekly planner day.

My before the pen in the Classic Happy Planner (life planner), and my Mini Happy Planner (mainly just school planner, but some important life bits tossed in). Planning is therapeutic for me, but man is it hard to use all those beautiful stickers!

We haven’t decorated our tree yet (it’s up and there are lights, but we’ll do the ornaments on Saturday), but I did put up our mantle decorations and I set up the dining room table (that box was $20 at a craft fair last year and that thing is a beast!!!). I typically have more Santas out, that I inherited from my Gma, but those are tucked safely away in the curio cabinet. I didn’t put up as much as last year either, because Molly is into everything.

I rarely post pictures of what we eat, because as you can see, I am NOT a food photographer. BUT, I thought I’d share these to spice things up a bit.

We have scrambled eggs with toast pieces (I cut up some sourdough bread, but I actually prefer to use Italian bread) and bacon. Just cut the bread, cook it in butter (like a grilled cheese) and when it’s toasted on both sides, or close to, add another dab of butter and some eggs, and mix it up. It’s something my mother-in-law would make for me, and it’s tasty! We also have some low-carb green bean casserole that was DELICIOUS! I made that for our Friday Thanksgiving. And the last one is my breakfast, but a tragic mishap. In the winter I’ve been taking a kiwi (which I do in the summer), and a clementine. Well, the store had grapes on sale and Kalen accidentally sent me with two of the same thing, and no grapes. TRAGIC.

Okay, this week’s meal plan!

Nov. 25: Keto beef stew, roasted asparagus, sourdough bread (not keto haha). We’ll be making the stew again.
Nov. 26: Hot Italian sausage cooked in the Crockpot and then sliced, mixed with whole wheat rotini, and topped with shredded smoked mozzarella we snagged at Tenuta’s when we were in Wisconsin.
Nov. 27: Creamy spinach and artichoke chicken, rice, blistered green beans.
Nov. 28: Ground beef tacos, black beans, Vigo yellow rice.
Nov. 29: Creamy beef and shells, asparagus.
Nov. 30: Birthday party – no dinner at home.
Dec. 1: Crispy roast pork, carrots, asparagus.
Dec. 2: Order Out – Pizza? Wings?

So, that’s really it for now! This week will be just as busy as the last, except it won’t be crammed with family festivities and online deals and Christmas decorating.

How did you spend your holiday? Let me know!

Top 5 Ways I Get Things Done

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Who else gives themselves a pep talk when they have to complete something? I’m my own enemy when it comes to getting anything done. I know just what to tell myself in order to get out of doing anything.

“You can do it tomorrow!” “No one will know/care if you do/don’t complete this!” “Finishing this won’t matter – you’re going to fail.”

I can be pretty negative when it comes to doing something important. So how do I get it done?

1. Planners!
I use multiple planners to keep track of various tasks. I have a mini Happy Planner that is dedicated to school-related tasks, so I map out what I need to read/write/take. I have a classic Happy Planner that is for life in general. School stuff goes in here as an overview, but so do chores, appointments, and things I’d like to accomplish. I just started using the classic student Happy Planner for things such as writing, blogging, social media, health, and, for now, a school overview. Being able to see what I have to do helps me stick to a schedule.
2. Lists!
I’m a list-maker. I always have been, and I’ll guess that I always will be. I make lists in my planners, on scraps of paper, and on my phone. I get a sense of satisfaction when I check things off, and more so when ALL the tasks were checked off. That satisfaction is motivation for me, and makes it easier for me to do what needs to be done.
3. Talking!
I know it sounds crazy, but trust me – talking! I do this by telling people what I’m going to do. If I put it out there, I’m more likely to do it. If I keep it to myself, it’s easier for me to talk myself out of doing it. So, I will tell my husband what I have to get done that week, and it helps keep me accountable.
4. Entertainment!
This one depends on the task. If I’m cleaning house, I’ll watch YouTube videos or listen to music. If I’m studying, classical music. If I’m writing, I might watch TV. The background distraction is a huge help in getting something done.
This tactic helps more so in school-related tasks, but it helps! When I tell myself that I’m going to fail, or question why I’m in school, I have to tell myself that the payoff will be worth it. It is definitely easier said than done, but it is helpful.

As a bonus, here is a sixth way!
6. Pray!
Faith is an important part of my life. Each week, I make a very broad prayer list, and then I pray over it. The prayers are more specific, but having that list helps me, and prayer helps me! If I know God is on my side, I know I can do it.

Weekly Meal Plan

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash

It’s been a long time since I shared a weekly meal plan ’round here, but I have one for you this week! We’ve still been planning, and sticking to, our weekly meal plans, but I haven’t been sharing them here, obviously.

November 12: we ordered/picked up wings from a local joint. original plan was shifted to Wednesday, and that was wiped off.
November 13: Crockpot buffalo ranch meatballs, hash browns, salad.
November 14: turkey meatloaf, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, carrots.
November 15: copycat Olive Garden chicken fettuccine alfredo.
November 16: brats, baked or fried potatoes (quite possibly changed to rice), salad.
November 17: chili
November 18: Greek-style whole chicken with roasted potatoes, carrots, French bread.

As you probably noticed, we’re not Keto/low-carb. We’ll get back to it, but right now this is easier for us. We just limit the amount.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Ink Smudges & Crumpled Paper

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Since the 4th grade, I’ve been writing. We had gone on a field trip, and were given an assignment to write a story of what we thought a day in the 1800s was like. Mine started out with my main character smelling the breakfast her mom was making. From then on, I was hooked.

My earlier writing was a lot of different takes on life in the 1800s, and even now I sometimes dip into that time period, or a similar setting, but I have started to stray more into the realm of fantasy too.

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Every year, I try to do NaNoWriMo but I have yet to successfully finish a project. I love the idea, and I’m trying it this year, but I think my problem with finishing is that I am easily distracted. I’d love to be the writer that can dedicate time to writing without other worries, but I can’t. I still have my job, school, home, animals, and other obligations that keep me from focusing like I want to on my writing.

Does that mean I’m not going to attempt it this year? HECK NO!!! I have an idea that has me really excited for this year, and in general, and I can’t wait to (hopefully) see how it plays out for me this time.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

My dream is to be a published writer, and writing for myself is one of the things I think I touched on in my post about seeking balance so I feel that this year is especially important for my own mental health and well-being.

And that is why I’m going to go snuggle up in bed with my ideas (it’s cold out, okay?) and start my project. Who knows, maybe you’ll be reading it next year!

Do you love to write? Have you Ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!